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  • Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha.

  • Today, I'm going to talk about how to use the wordcouldto express possibility

  • and a few other uses of this word too.

  • So, let's get started.

  • Okay, the first use ofcouldthat I want to mention is as the past tense ofcan.”

  • So, “canis the present tense word we use to talk about ability, we use it for ability.

  • However, in the past tensecanbecomescould.”

  • That means we use the word, “could,” to express past ability.

  • Let's look at some example sentences.

  • First one, “When I was young I could speak Spanish.”

  • So, a past tense situation, this is a past ability.

  • “I could speak Spanish.”

  • Three years ago, she could swim faster than all the other students in her class.”

  • So, again a past tense situation, three years ago here.

  • Okay, one more.

  • Last week, I couldn't use this software.

  • Now, I can.”

  • So, here, I've used the negativecouldn't,” could not.

  • Last week, I couldn't use this software.

  • Now, I can.”

  • So, I usedcanin the present tense here.

  • So, that's the first point that I want to mention for today.

  • Usingcouldas the past tense of the word, “can.”

  • So, these all express past ability, a past capability.

  • The second point I want to talk about for today is usingcouldfor suggestions

  • and for advice.

  • Please keep in mind when you usecould,” it's not giving maybe a promise about that

  • activity.

  • You're not making any promises about the activity.

  • The nuance ofcouldor the meaning ofcouldis just possibility.

  • When you give a suggestion or when you give advice, using the word, “could,” you're

  • giving some information about possibility only.

  • Something it is possible to do, an action it is possible to take.

  • Let's look at some examples then.

  • First, “We could go hiking this weekend.”

  • Here, I havecould.”

  • So, again, just a possibility.

  • It's possible to go hiking this weekend,” “we could.”

  • So, this is a suggestion for a possible action.

  • Next, “I could cook something spicy for dinner tonight.”

  • Again, possibility only.

  • “I could cook something spicy for dinner.”

  • It's possible for me to make something spicy.

  • Third, “You could try talking to your landlord about the problem.”

  • So, here, I have the word, “could.”

  • Again, it's possible you could talk to your landlord.

  • It's possible, you could.

  • So, we can think of these two things as having a very similar meaning.

  • Keep in mind, of course, because this is a suggestion, if I suggest, for example, “I

  • could cook something for dinner tonight,” the nuance is that maybe the speaker wants

  • to do that activity or recommends that activity or that action.

  • But, the nuance once, again, is just that it's possible, just that it's possible.

  • So, it's a fairly soft recommendation.

  • Okay, so that's point number two I want to mention.

  • Before I go to point number three, I want to mention two kinds of smaller points within

  • this.

  • First, when we usecouldin the positive like I've used here, “She could swim,”

  • or, “We could go hiking,” for example, this refers to something that is possible.

  • It is something that is possible to do.

  • In the negative form, however, likecould not,” for example, in this sentence, “Last

  • week, I couldn't use this software.”

  • When we use it in the negative form, it means impossible, 0% chance.

  • Positive is just something possible.

  • There's potential for an action to happen or for a status, but, impossible is the negative

  • form.

  • It is totally impossible, zero chance of something.

  • So, with these points in mind, let's look at the next item I want to talk about.

  • Okay.

  • So, we can usecouldandbe,” the verb, “to be,” for a status.

  • So, a situation like to talk about a person or to talk about a thing.

  • So, again, this expresses a possibility.

  • We are making a guess.

  • So, in these cases, we don't have all the information about a situation but we are making

  • a guess, a guess about potential, a guess about possibility.

  • For example, “This could be the right house.”

  • If you've seen the video we did about usingmust,” you'll notice maybe I've used

  • a similar sentence here.

  • This could be the right house,” andThis must be the right house.”

  • They're very similar sentences.

  • Couldexpresses only possibility, so a lower level of certainty thanmust.”

  • If I say, “This must be the right house,” it means there's a very high chance this is

  • the correct house.

  • Here, “couldshows only possibility, so a lower level of chance, there's not so

  • much certainty here.

  • Let's look at another one.

  • He couldn't be my teacher.

  • I heard my teacher wears glasses.”

  • Here, I have the negative, “couldn't,” “He couldn't be my teacher.”

  • That implies it is impossible.

  • So, “That person, that man, couldn't be my teacher because I heard my teacher wears

  • glasses.”

  • So, I have some other information that tells me, “This person, this guy, he couldn't

  • be my teacher.

  • It's not possible for him to be my teacher.”

  • One more example.

  • They could be asleep, maybe that's why they're not answering the phone.”

  • So, here, I've used positivecould,” “They could be asleep,” so I'm showing

  • only possibility here.

  • I'm giving a possible explanation for why these people are not answering their phone.

  • They could be asleep.”

  • It's possible they are asleep.

  • Okay.

  • Now, let's consider how to explain points like this but in the past tense.

  • So, when we make the past tense, we usehaveand the past participle of a verb.

  • So, for example, “She couldn't have been on the airplane.”

  • She couldn't,” again, impossible, “It was impossible she was on the airplane.”

  • She couldn't have been on the airplane,” maybe her first flight was delayed.

  • It's impossible.

  • It was impossible for her to be on the airplane.

  • Another example, “This could have been finished faster.”

  • I have the positive here showing it's possible.

  • So, a project, for example, it's possible that this project, maybe, “could.”

  • It's possible to have been finished faster here.

  • So, again, the positive form shows only possibility and here in the past, “could have been finished

  • faster.”

  • One more, “I could've.”

  • Here, I've used the contracted form.

  • So, “couldplushavebecomecould've.”

  • So, “I could've gotten up earlier.”

  • Maybe I got up at 10 o'clock but 8 o'clock was possible in the past.

  • “I could have,” meaning maybe I didn't but it was possible in the past.

  • We can usecould'veto show that.

  • Okay.

  • The final point I want to make today is about future situations.

  • Making guesses about future situations.

  • Just a couple of examples here.

  • Remember, the same positive and negative point applies here as well.

  • So, in the first example, “I have your mom could call while we're out.”

  • Your mom could,” and then I have a verb after this, “call,” to call, make a phone

  • call.

  • So, “Your mom could call while we're out,” meaning, in the future, when we are out of

  • the house, it's possible your mother may call.

  • This is the nuance of this expression.

  • So, I'm making a guess about a future situation with the word, “could.”

  • Your mother could call while we're out.”

  • We can use it in another situation.

  • He could send the file before the meeting.”

  • So, again, these are guesses, both cases, your mom and this, he, person, these are guesses

  • about other people.

  • We're making a guess about a future situation, a future possible situation.

  • So, “He could send the files before the meeting,” but we don't know.

  • We're making a guess about the future.

  • You can usecouldto express that as well.

  • So, those are a few different points about how to use the wordcould.”

  • We can use it as the past tense ofcan.”

  • We can use it to make suggestions and to give advice.

  • We can use it to talk about a status, a possibility around a status.

  • And, we can use it to talk about the past situations, past possible situations.

  • And, finally, to make guesses about future possible situations too.

  • So, this is a lot of information and it's very quick but I hope that it was useful for

  • you.

  • If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let us know in the comment section

  • below this video.

  • If you liked this video please make sure to subscribe to our channel and hit the Like

  • button on this video, as well.

  • Check us out at EnglishClass101.com for more good stuff too.

  • Thanks very much for watching this episode and I will see you again soon.

  • Bye.

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